Tag Archives: influence

How ProPublica Became Big Tech’s Scariest Watchdog

The nonprofit is fighting fire with fire, developing algorithms and bots that hold Facebook and Amazon accountable.

Facebook is a political battleground where Russian operatives work to influence elections, fake news runs rampant, and political hopefuls use ad targeting to reach swing voters. We have no idea what goes on inside Facebook’s insidious black box algorithm, which controls the all-powerful News Feed. Are politicians playing by the rules? Can we trust Facebook to police them? Do we really have any choice?

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Volkswagen unveils 2019 Arteon flagship sedan in Chicago

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon enters US showrooms in the third quarter of 2018

Set to replace the CC as the make’s flagship sedan, the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is built on the company’s new global architecture and brings new design influence for the brand. The Arteon was recently unveiled to the US market at the Chicago Auto Show.

Continue Reading Volkswagen unveils 2019 Arteon flagship sedan in Chicago

Category: Automotive


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This disclosure could hurt your work relationships

Disclosing a weakness might not be a good way to build rapport with coworkers, research suggests.

Sharing personal information with friends and family is a standard way to build rapport and healthy relationships. But between coworkers, that’s not always true.

In the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, researchers report that for higher status individuals, disclosing a weakness negatively affected their relationship and task effectiveness with their lowers status partners.

“We may think that sharing personal information is always a good thing, but what we found is that when higher status individuals, which could in real situations include star employees, share personal information that highlights a potential shortcoming, it can affect the way they are perceived by coworkers,” says Dana Harari, a doctoral student at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business.

“This is important because it could undermine their ability to be an effective manager.”

The team focused on task-oriented relationships such as those found in a workplace.

Higher status individuals may want to disclose information about their weaknesses to coworkers in the hopes of developing a closer relationship.

The researchers devised three laboratory experiments during which a total of 762 participants completed virtual tasks with either a higher status or peer status partner. During the task, the “coworker,” who was actually a confederate in the study, disclosed personal information that could be perceived either as a weakness, a positive, or neutral.

The researchers found that although the type of disclosure did not affect peer status disclosers, higher status individuals who disclosed a weakness experienced a “status penalty.” As a result, higher status disclosers were liked less, and participants resisted their influence more during the task.

“A lot of the current conversations that we hear about leadership is that we want leaders to be authentic and to bring their true selves to work, but our findings suggest that if doing so reveals vulnerability initially such as sharing their flaws, it could have a negative impact on how well they’ll be able to influence the people that they work with,” Harari says.

Why bad bosses shouldn’t try to be funny

The findings are particularly notable because in organizations, higher status individuals may be motivated to disclose information about their weaknesses to coworkers in the hopes of developing a closer relationship and working better together as a result, the researchers write. Or, in some cases, the disclosing individual may hope to relieve the stress of trying to conceal weaknesses.

But that “status loss” could lead to unintended outcomes, such as the discloser having less influence and experiencing more conflict within their team, the researchers write.

“It is especially interesting that although self-disclosing weakness signaled vulnerability for everyone, only higher status disclosers suffered from this ‘status penalty,’” Harari says. “Thus, although higher status disclosers may feel closer to their coworkers after disclosing information themselves, they may not realize that the receiver may not feel closer to them.”

Source: Georgia Tech

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general design discussion • Re: Syd Mead interview

Such an amazing influence to our industry. In 1995, while I was with GM, he came in to pitch his firm’s vision for a new GM Oldsmobile exhibit – I had the pleasure of sitting with him for 20 minutes and chatting about his work with Alcoa in the 70′s, with the steel industry in the 80′s and with the big raw material plastic suppliers in the 90′s. He signed a copy of his firm’s exhibit proposal for me (yeah, I was an admitted fanboy), I still have it somewhere.

Here’s What I Learned About Myself When I Tracked Every Hour Of My Day

Over the holidays I spoke with a friend who had just finished an interesting experiment: She spent a few weeks writing down the amount of time she spent daily doing both productive and unproductive things. At the end of her experiment, she was shocked to find how much time she was actually wasting on things like “quickly” checking social media.  I was inspired to undertake the same experiment to see if I’m really as productive as I think, or if I’m wasting time.

Related10 Time-Tracking Apps That Will Make You More Productive

So I decided to track everything I did every day for one workweek. My method was simple: I jotted down on paper how much time I had spent doing various tasks as soon as I finished them. I did not look at these times until the end of the week, as I didn’t want to influence a change in my behavior as I was doing this experiment. At the end of the week, I slotted all the events into the categories below, and then added up the times for each day, and then the entire week. The amount of time listed below are the daily averages for the entire workweek.

Doing Actual Work: 8.5 Hours A Day

Might as well start off with my strengths. I was relieved to find I don’t appear to be a slacker. I work from home, and I spend 8.5 hours of my day, on average, doing actual work. In my case, this mostly involves writing. But as a journalist, a lot of my work doesn’t just involve the physical act of writing. I’m in one of the few occupations that can say browsing the web and social media for research is actually part of my duties.

My 8.5-hour workday involved five hours of writing and 3.5 hours doing work-related research online. That’s not bad, but sadly, the time I spend on social media doesn’t end with my workday.

Related: The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day

Walking: 3 hours A Day

I take three one-hour walks a day: one before work, one halfway through my workday, and then one later at night. While I do take these walks for health-related purposes, I also take them for work-related purposes. There’s just something about walking that helps spur my creativity to generate words and ideas for new stories–something studies support.

Running Errands: 1 Hour A Day

On average, I found I spend about an hour a day doing errands. This can include things like managing finances and invoices, doing laundry, and cleaning the house. I actually thought the amount of time I spent on errands would be higher, but technology means that I don’t have to waste time doing things like running to the bank.

Cooking/Eating: 1 hour A Day

My average time spent both cooking and eating during a workday is only one hour. I eat three meals a day, and considering each meal takes me about 10 minutes to make, that means I only spend 10 minutes per meal actually eating my food. Yep, I scarf my food down fast–something that isn’t good for you. I should, in fact, be spending 20 minutes enjoying each meal (not counting the 10-minute prep time each meal takes).

Internet And Social Media: 2.5 Hours

I found that I  waste a whopping 2.5 hours of every workday playing around on social media and browsing the web just because it’s there. Sadly, that’s actually more than most people across the world do. The global average is closer to 2.25 hours. Further, considering I already spend 3.5 hours of my workday on the internet and social media sites doing work-related tasks, this is a horrible metric for me.  Since staring at a screen and spending a lot of time on social media may actually be detrimental to our mental health, this is one area my findings say I need to reallocate time from to other more important areas of my life (like taking the time to enjoy meals).

Relaxing: 2 Hours A Day

This category includes things like reading a physical book, meeting a friend for a coffee, and watching television. These two hours of downtime usually always come before I go to bed for the night and, unlike wasting time browsing people’s pictures of food on Instagram, actually have a beneficial effect on our well-being.

Sleep: 6 Hours A Day

Finally, we get to sleep. That critical state our bodies require every night. During a workweek I found I averaged about six hours a night. That’s not bad–but still less than the 7-9 hours most experts recommend.

Related: The Perils Of Time Tracking

So, What Does This All Tell Me?

Overall, my unscientific experiment shows I’m generally a productive guy when it comes to my professional work (a good thing, since I write about productivity so much). However, I found I am wasting more time than I thought. Had you asked me before my experiment how much time I spent on social media and the web outside of work, I would have guessed maybe 30 to 60 minutes a day. The fact is, it is fives times that lower figure: All those “quick” checks of my social media apps add up to a lot of time over the course of the day.

My experiment also revealed that I need to spend more time enjoying my meals instead of scarfing them down, and that I should probably get at least an extra hour of sleep each night. Where could I find the extra, say, two hours, for that? You guessed it: from the time I spend wasting on social media.

So for me, it’s time to make a change. After all, the clock’s ticking.

How your classmates’ DNA could affect your education

Our classmates’ DNA may play a role in how far we go in school, a new paper suggests.

“We examined whether the genes of your peer groups influenced your height, weight, or educational attainment. We didn’t find a correlation to height or weight, but did find a small one with how far you go in school,” says Ben Domingue, assistant professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and first author of the new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The link can be explained by what researchers call social genetic effects, when the health or behavior of one individual is affected by the genes of another. The effect shows up, recent research on mice has found, with roommates, as well.

The genetic influence of schoolmates may manifest itself through traits or characteristics that then influence your behavior, says researchers.

Say, for example, that your friend stays up late because of a genetic disposition to burn the midnight oil. That behavior may cause you to stay up late too, affecting your educational attainment, which researchers define as the amount of formal schooling completed.

The association is not deterministic, explains Domingue—meaning you can’t blame your friends’ genes (or your own, for that matter) for that D in chemistry. The effect is also small—roughly one-third of an extra year of schooling.

But the findings do point to important ways in which genetic and social effects are interrelated in their influence on behavior.

“Unlike height, educational attainment is socially contextualized. There is more going on than genetics,” says Kathleen Mullan Harris, senior author and professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Our results imply that scientific investigations into either genetic and social effects need to account for the other.”

The research uses data from 5,500 adolescents in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a large, nationally representative National Institutes of Health study directed by Harris at UNC.

The research also looked at how similar we are genetically to our friends. Previous research has shown that friends share similar genes (they can be as genetically close as fourth-cousins, a 2014 study found).

This new paper expands and advances that research, showing that schoolmates are also more genetically similar to each other than strangers. Domingue says the genetic similarities among schoolmates points to a role for social structure in shaping such genetic similarities.

How high-status friends could affect your weight

“It is certainly the case that individuals do a lot of planning around which schools their children will attend,” the researchers say. “One of the side effects of this competition to gain access to certain schools seems to be the grouping of like with like.”

This investigation into the “social genome” has potential implications for both social science and genetics. For social scientists, social genetic effects offer a path for improved understanding of peer effects. For geneticists, this work points to the need for consideration of social context in genetic studies of variables that may be strongly influenced by one’s social setting.

In addition to Domingue and Harris, the paper’s coauthors are from the Duke University School of Medicine; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Princeton University; and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Source: Stanford University

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Predator’s pee warns mud crabs of attack

Researchers have identified two chemicals in the urine of predatory blue crabs that warn mud crabs of an impending attack.

Beyond decoding crab-eat-crab alarm triggers, pinpointing the compounds for the first time opens new doors to understanding how chemicals invisibly regulate marine wildlife.

“You might call trigonelline and homarine fear-inducing cues.”

The findings, which appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could someday contribute to better management of crab and oyster fisheries, and help specify which pollutants upset them.

In coastal marshes, these urinary alarm chemicals, trigonelline and homarine, help to regulate the ecological balance of who eats how many of whom—and not just crabs.

Blue crabs, which are tough, strong, and about hand-sized, eat mud crabs, which are about the size of a silver dollar and thin-shelled. Mud crabs eat a lot of oysters, but when blue crabs are going after mud crabs, the mud crabs hide and freeze, so far fewer oysters get eaten than usual.

Humans are part of the food chain, too, eating oysters as well as blue crabs that boil up a bright orange. The blue refers to the color of markings on their appendages before they’re cooked. So blue crab urinary chemicals influence seafood availability for people, too.

Duck and cover

The fact that blue crab urine scares mud crabs was already known. Mud crabs duck and cover when exposed to samples taken in the field and in the lab, even when the blue crabs aren’t visible. Digestive products, or metabolites, in blue crab urine trigger the mud crabs’ reaction, which also makes them stop foraging for food themselves.

“Mud crabs react most strongly when blue crabs have already eaten other mud crabs,” says Julia Kubanek, professor of biological sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology and co-lead author of the research.

“A change in the chemical balance in blue crab urine tells mud crabs that blue crabs just ate their cousins,” she says.

Figuring out the two specific chemicals, trigonelline and homarine, that set off the alarm system, out of myriad candidate molecules, is new and has been a challenging research achievement.

“My guess is that there are many hundreds of chemicals in the animal’s urine,” says Kubanek.

Trigonelline has been studied, albeit loosely, in some diseases, and is known as one of the ingredients in coffee beans that, upon roasting, breaks down into other compounds that give coffee its aroma. Homarine is very similar to trigonelline, and, while less studied, is also common.

“These chemicals are found in many places,” Kubanek says. But picking them out of all the chemicals in blue crab urine for the first time was like finding two needles in a haystack.

‘Walking noses’

In the past, researchers trying to narrow down such chemicals have often started out by separating them out in arduous laboratory procedures then testing them one at a time to see if any of them worked. There was a good chance of turning up nothing.

For the current study, researchers went after the whole haystack of chemicals at one time using mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

“We screened the entire chemical composition of each sample at once,” Kubanek says. “We analyzed lots and lots of samples to fish out chemical candidates.”

The researchers discovered spikes in about a dozen metabolites after blue crabs ate mud crabs. They tested out those pee chemicals that spiked on the mud crabs and discovered that trigonelline and homarine distinctly made them crouch.

“Trigonelline scares the mud crabs a little bit more,” Kubanek says.

More specifically, high concentrations of either of the two did the trick, says co-lead author Marc Weissburg, professor of biological sciences. “It’s clear that there was a dose-dependent response. Mud crabs have evolved to home in on that elevated dose.”

“Most crustaceans are walking noses,” Weissburg says. “They detect chemicals with sensors on their claws, antennae, and even the walking legs. The compounds we isolated are pretty simple, which suggests they might be easily detectable in a variety of places on a crab. This redundancy is good because it increases the likelihood that the mud crabs get the message and not get eaten.”

Affecting the entire ecosystem

Evolution preserved the mud crabs with the duck-and-cover reaction to the two chemicals, which also influenced the ecological balance, in part by pushing blue crabs to look for more of their food elsewhere. But it influenced other animal populations as well.

For prey escaping predators, location matters

“These chemicals are staggeringly important,” Weissburg says “The scent from a blue crab potentially affects a large number of mud crabs, all of which stop eating oysters, and that helps preserve the oyster populations.”

All that also affects food sources for marine birds and mammals: Just by the effects of two chemicals, and there are so many more chemical signals around. “It’s hard for us to appreciate the richness of this chemical landscape,” Weissburg says.

As scientists learn more, influencing these systems could become useful to ecologists and the fishing industry, Weissburg says.

“We might even be able to use these chemicals to control oyster consumption by predators to help preserve these habitats, which are critical, or to help oyster farmers.”

Pollutants in pesticides and herbicides are known to interfere with estuaries’ ecologies. “It will be a lot easier to test how strong this is by knowing specific ecological chemicals,” Weissburg says.

Evading predators is more complex than ‘run away!’

By the way, trigonelline and homarine are not pheromones.

“Pheromones are signaling molecules that have a function within the same species, like to attract mates,” Kubanek says. “And blue crabs and mud crabs are not the same species. In this case, the mud crabs have evolved to chemically eavesdrop on the blue crabs’ pee. You might call trigonelline and homarine fear-inducing cues.”

The National Science Foundation funded the work.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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sketching • Re: Suggestions on Improvement?

PeterC wrote:
I am trying to get a better handle on my sketching for strengthening my portfolio. Could anyone give me some suggestions on ways to improve? I have taken traditional drawing classes but am entirely self taught when it comes to using pens and the industrial design product sketching style. So far I’ve just been watching tutorials. My goal is to build up a certain level of skill so that if I pursue a masters degree I will be at a level with my sketching so that I can stand with my peers in at least one more area. I may possibly start a new thread in this forum to post daily or multiple times a week drawings but I have not decided yet.


Loosen up your work a little, bend the rules a little bit. Try to make your linework clean and confident. Check out Yo’s sketch a day thread.

Additionally I’ve found that its always good to have a few references at hand when sketching. So if I was sketching a car, I would perhaps have a picture of a car and also a couple of sketches of cars that I enjoy from other designers and use them as reference/influence to come up with something of my own..

Just an amateur myself, but thats whats helped me so far.

Poor health more likely for babies born near fracking

Babies born to mothers living up to about 2 miles from a hydraulic fracturing site suffer from poorer health, new research indicates.

The largest impacts were to babies born within about a half mile of a site, with those babies being 25 percent more likely to be born at a low birth weight—leaving them with a greater risk of infant mortality, ADHD, asthma, lower test scores, lower schooling attainment, and lower earnings.

The risk of giving birth to an infant with a low birth weight decreases the farther the mother lives from a site, the study finds.

From North Dakota to Texas to Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing has transformed many places in America into energy powerhouses. But while some see the new energy boom as benefiting the local economy, others fear the potential health and environmental consequences.

“Broadly, hydraulic fracturing has reduced energy prices and caused natural gas to greatly decrease the use of coal for power generation in the United States, leading to reductions in air pollution that have very likely improved health throughout the country,” says study coauthor Michael Greenstone, professor in economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

“But these national benefits depend on local communities allowing hydraulic fracturing and governments around the world have taken very different approaches with some banning it and others embracing. This study provides the first large-scale peer-reviewed evidence of a link between hydraulic fracturing activities and our health, specifically the health of babies,” he says. The findings appear in Science Advances.

The risk of giving birth to an infant with a low birth weight decreases the farther the mother lives from a site, the study finds. Infants born to mothers living about a half to 2 miles from a site also experienced increases in the probability of low birth weight but the effect is smaller—about a half to a third of the effect within about a half mile.

In contrast, the study found no evidence of impacts on infant health among babies born to mothers living farther than about 2 miles from a fracking site. These results suggest that hydraulic fracturing does have an impact on infant health, but only at a highly localized level. Out of the nearly 4 million babies born in the United States each year, about 29,000 of them are born within about a half mile of a fracking site, while another 95,500 are born about a half to 2 miles away.

“While we know proximity to hydraulic fracturing sites is associated with compromised infant health, we do not yet know the mechanism—air or water pollution, chemicals onsite, an increase in traffic, or some other channel—or whether it affects health after birth,” says coauthor Katherine Meckel, an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

These fracking sites are close to drinking water wells

“This is a critical area for future research because it can help identify ways to mitigate or even erase the health effects, without causing communities to lose out on the local economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing,” Meckel says.

Meckel, Greenstone, and their coauthor Janet Currie, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and the director of the university’s Center for Health and Wellbeing, discovered their findings by comparing infants born to mothers living near a drilling site to those living farther from a site both before and after the drilling began.

As a check, the study further refines this comparison so that it is based on siblings who were exposed to fracking with those who were not. The study relies on birth certificate data from more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013.

This study of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on infant health follows a study by Greenstone, Currie, and other colleagues on its local economic benefits. That study, released last December, found the average household living near a hydraulic fracturing site benefits by about $1,900 per year. This is driven by a 7 percent increase in average income due to rises in wages and royalty payments, a 10 percent increase in employment, and a 6 percent increase in housing prices.

Home values can sink or swim near fracking

The authors caution, however, that new information on the local health consequences of hydraulic fracturing is likely to influence housing prices if it differs from current expectations of health effects.

“Housing prices are not fixed, they are based on many factors including how well the job market is and how safe the area is to live in,” says Currie. “As these results, and others on the health impacts from hydraulic fracturing, become mainstreamed into the consciousness of homeowners and home buyers, the local economic benefits could change.”

Source: University of Chicago

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footwear & softgoods • Re: 2017 Shoe of the Year?

Uh. Ok.

For me, I was really interested in a lot of the models coming from the brand Filling Pieces. What caught my eye on these is that they all use cupsole construction, a very 1980s but cost effective construction for a low volume brand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this much sculpting with it though. They took the sculpted influence from poorer PU and injected EVA and brought it to a low volume one piece manufacturing technique.